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Moot Court: Sisley v. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration


In 2020, from a cell in a California state prison, Steven Zyszkiewicz wrote a letter to DEA to request removal of marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. His reason was simple: “the current situation of cannabis in Schedule I [is] completely untenable” because “[h]alf the states allow for medical use.” He was (and still is) right. But when DEA responded just months later, it concluded otherwise and denied Zyszkiewicz’s petition. According to DEA, evidence gathered in response to a different petition submitted nearly a decade earlier proved that, per its five-part test, marijuana today has no “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Days later—and completely by chance—counsel for Dr. Sue Sisley of Scottsdale Research Institute learned of DEA’s then-secret denial of Mr. Zyszkiewicz’s petition. Together with several veterans and veterans-rights organizations, Dr. Sisley sued DEA in federal court challenging the five-part test the agency has used to keep marijuana in Schedule I for decades. That petition is being played out at CLI's first ever Moot Court!
Our distinguished panel of judges will hear argument from both sides—petitioners and the government—and make a decision regarding the legality of marijuana’s continued classification as a Schedule I substance. Come see the exciting hearing unfold! Shane Pennington and Matt Zorn, counsel for Dr. Sisley in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will present the case—Dr. Sisley’s arguments as well as the government’s before our distinguished panel of judges: Alan Morrison, Dean of Public Interest GW Law, Michael S. Hiller, Managing Partner of Hiller, PC, and Jay Wexler, Professor of Law, Boston University.

Shane Pennington, Partner, Vicente Sederberg LLP

Shane’s practice is focused on appeals and regulatory litigation for clients in a diverse array of industries, including energy, shipping, aviation, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare. Recent matters have involved challenges to federal agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act, preemption issues under the Airline Deregulation Act, and EPA rule-making challenges under the Clean Air Act. Drawing on his experience as a former law clerk to judges on both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Shane’s unique insights can also assist clients that may be evaluating potential or pending cases involving complex regulatory issues.

Shane received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law with high honors and served as both the Articles Editor for the Texas Law Review and as Managing Editor of Texas Review of Law and Politics. He completed three clerkships, including with the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, then-Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the Honorable Jennifer Walker Elrod of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the Honorable David B. Sentelle, then-Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Shane is recognized as "One to Watch" by Best Lawyers in America® and as a “Texas Rising Star” in Appellate Law by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers. He is a published author on emerging issues in administrative law and founded admin.law, a blog where he comments on important happenings in administrative law in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He is also part of Yale Journal on Regulation’s Notice & Comment blog where he provides regular commentary and insight on a wide variety of administrative law issues. 

Prior to joining the firm, Shane was an associate with Baker Botts.

Matt Zorn, Attorney, Yetter Coleman LLP

 

Matt focuses on complex commercial litigation, representing clients in IP, contract, and regulatory litigation in federal and state court. He has significant expertise in federal jurisdiction and procedure. Matt is at home digging out case-changing evidence, crafting legal strategies under arcane statutes and procedures, eliciting critical deposition or trial testimony, and arguing on his feet to courts and arbitrators, all to help his clients win needed relief. Matt was honored as a 2020 Pegasus Scholar by American Inns of Court. In one of his favorite areas of complex litigation, Best Lawyers in America named Matt "One to Watch," and Thomson Reuters' Super Lawyers recognized him as a "Texas Rising Star" in IP Litigation. Based on recent pro bono work, Matt also is recognized as an authority in the byzantine federal regulatory scheme relating to cannabis research, even being named to the Law360 2020 Cannabis Editorial Advisory Board. Before joining the firm, Matt was a judicial clerk to the Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, spending hundreds of hours in court helping manage one of the busiest trial dockets in the country. Before then he was a litigator with Paul, Weiss in New York City.

Alan B. Morrison, Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law, The George Washington University Law School

Alan B. Morrison is the Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest & Public Service at GW Law. He is responsible for creating pro bono opportunities for students, bringing a wide range of public interest programs to the law school, encouraging students to seek positions in the non-profit and government sectors, and assisting students find ways to fund their legal education to make it possible for them to pursue careers outside of traditional law firms. 

For most of his career, Dean Morrison worked for the Public Citizen Litigation Group, which he co-founded with Ralph Nader in 1972 and directed for over 25 years. His work involved law reform litigation in various areas including: open government, opening up the legal profession, suing agencies that fail to comply with the law, enforcing principles of separation of powers, protecting the rights of consumers, and protecting unrepresented class members in class action settlements. 

He has argued 20 cases in the Supreme Court, including victories in Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar (holding lawyers subject to the antitrust laws for using minimum fee schedules); Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council (making commercial speech subject to the First Amendment); and INS v. Chadha (striking down over 200 federal laws containing the legislative veto as a violation of separation of powers). 

He currently teaches civil procedure and constitutional law, and previously taught at Harvard, NYU, Stanford, Hawaii, and American University law schools. He is a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and was its president in 1999–2000. Among other positions, he served as an elected member of the Board of Governors of the District of Columbia Bar, a member and then senior fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a member of the American Law Institute, and a member of the Committee on Science, Technology & Law of the National Academy of Science. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, served as a commissioned officer in the US Navy, and was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York.

Michael Hiller, Founding Member, Hiller PC
Michael oversees Hiller, PC's National Cannabis Practice. In 2018, he was named America’s 420 Advocate of the Year by Canna-Gather, received the International Hope Award by the Cannabis Business Association, and was named one of the 30 Most Powerful Cannabis Litigators in America by Mg Retailer Magazine. Michael has been named a SuperLawyer by SuperLawyer Magazine every year since 2010, and served as lead counsel in the legalization lawsuit and appeal, Washington v. Barr -- a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately received the support of 19 nationally-recognized organizations and seven members of Congress. A retired member of the faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a Professor of Constitutional Law, Michael is a fierce advocate and widely recognized leader in the cannabis space. 

In addition to his cannabis law work, Michael has received the Grassroots Preservation Award for his preservation of city, state and federal landmarks; has been named a Life Member of the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums for his successful trial work; and is a designated Mediator for the New York State Supreme Court. Before his admission to the Bar, Michael was a professional musician, and an artist-in-residence at NYC's legendary The Bitter End.
Jay Wexler, Professor, Boston University School of Law

Professor Jay Wexler has taught at Boston University School of Law since 2001. He earned tenure in 2007 and was awarded the Michael Melton Award for Excellence in Teaching at the law school in 2009. Professor Wexler’s scholarship focuses on church-state law, constitutional law, environmental law, and marijuana law. His articles, essays, and reviews have been published in the BYU Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Texas Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, Washington University Law Review, and William and Mary Law Review, among other places.

Professor Wexler is also the author of six books. His most recent volume, Our Non-Christian Nation: How Atheists, Satanists, Pagans, and Others are Demanding Their Rightful Place in Public Life, was published in 2019 by Redwood Press, the trade imprint of Stanford University Press, and won a 2019 Independent Publishers Gold Medal award in the Religion category. His current book project, which is under contract with the University of California Press for publication in 2022, is entitled Weed Rules: Toward a Just, Joyous, and Sensible Marijuana Policy in a Post-Legalization Nation. Professor Wexler’s shorter pieces have appeared in places like the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Mental Floss, National Geographic’s NewsWatch, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Salon, Slate, Spy, USA Today, and Vox.

Wexler speaks on church-state and other constitutional issues across the United States and internationally. In the fall of 2014, he taught on a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Buenos Aires. He has previously taught constitutional civil liberties at the University of Lyon 3 and church-state law on a Fulbright Fellowship at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He has delivered lectures on constitutional and environmental topics in Bangkok, Hanoi, Madrid, Moscow, Oslo, Santiago, Tallinn, and Warsaw. In addition, Professor Wexler has appeared as a church-state law expert in the documentary film Hail Satan? which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, and in an episode of the Emmy award winning A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

Before coming to BU Law, Professor Wexler worked as a law clerk for Judge David Tatel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the United States Supreme Court. From 1999 to 2001, he was an attorney advisor at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice where he provided advice on constitutional and statutory issues to various members of the executive branch.


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